Women are amazing creatures. Our bodies are superhero-cape worthy vessels. Seriously- the female body can create life, make food, heal small wounds with a simple kiss, ease troubles with its embrace, and walk in high heels for hours without keeling over in excruciating pain! My female friends are as diverse in their personalities as they are in body shape, and they are all absolutely impressive human beings. Unfortunately one thing we all have in common is a negative body image. I asked some women to recall some of their most memorable body comments and here are a few they came up with:
• “… that If I didn't stop eating (I'd had a salad) that I would end up being "shaped just like your Aunt - Tall and fat, built like a man" -Jessica
• When I was 12-- TWELVE-- and wanted braces to correct my crooked teeth (still uncorrected to this day) "Braces would only be cosmetic for you, and you have bigger problems there than just your teeth." -Em
• “My boobs would make the next guy run because they were that hideous!!” -Abigail
• Your ass is too big. -Liz
• “If you don’t eat today, you are one day closer to being less disgusting.” –Karen
I would love to say I was shocked and amazed, but I wasn’t. The most troublesome feeling was that this is normal. This is every day, no big deal “girl” talk. These are the voices of our family and friends. The first comment was from Jessica’s grandmother. The second was from Em’s dentist. The third was made by Abigail’s (now ex) boyfriend. The forth was from Liz’s female friend. The last one was what I used to tell the mirror. One of my closest and most respected friends recalled how her dad and brother used to tell her how fat and ugly she was until she would leave the dinner table. This is a woman I view as nothing less than amazing. She is generous, hilarious, and when I imagine where I’d be today without her support, my stomach turns. So why is this happening? What’s the solution? Should we all just try harder be Barbie doll copies or idealistic fashion models?
Almost two years ago I met a girl at a Christmas party. The minute I saw her I knew I didn’t like her. She was absolutely gorgeous. She was blonde and perky, with a perfect body and a radiance that lit up the room. She didn’t even have to try. She was the embodiment of every popular girl in high school that was mean to me, every girl a boyfriend had left me for, and everything I was not. My mother raised me to be polite, so I was. We talked as our significant others left us to fend for ourselves. Her stunning façade crumbled as our conversation carried on effortlessly. She morphed from a beautiful girl I was sure I didn’t like to an incredible woman with amazing talent I couldn’t wait to get to know better. I know her better now, and I love her. Oh yes, and, side note- she’s still just as beautiful. Her contribution surprised me only because I was ashamed to have not realized how hypocritical women (I) can be.
• “You’re cute, good thing because it’s the only thing about you worth noticing.” –Alisha
It seems that no woman can escape. That's what years of dating the wrong guys taught Alisha. No wonder we struggle so much just trying to get comfortable in our own skin. It’s inexplicably ridiculous how we can look at our female friends and see beauty that they cannot see in themselves. We see the exact qualities in our friends that we fail to recognize in ourselves. We protect our close friends like a lioness protecting her cubs. No one messes with our girls. But in walks a new girl and the claws come out. We make the same snap judgments we have defended ourselves from. She’s gorgeous with big boobs so she’s a bitch. She’s fat so she must be lazy. She’s thin so she must be anorexic. She is wearing that she must be a slut. Sometimes these judgments stay locked in our brains, waiting for proof before the verdict escape our mouths, but not often enough.
Our negativity towards any female’s body for whatever reason only breeds sickness and shame. It infects our mothers and sisters, our friends and enemies, and most tragically the little girls who know we are beautiful. If you have a daughter, great, if not it’s never too late for a little imagination- I have a challenge for you. Let your “daughter” be your conscience. Before you say anything about another woman, ask yourself- would I say this to/about my daughter? When you look in the mirror and that nagging voice chatters on about your insecurity ask- Do I want my daughter to think these things?
For the sake of your fellow women, please put on your superhero cape and rock it with confidence. Show everyone how you translate “beauty” and let’s rebuild our gender. We are strong as individuals, but unstoppable as friends. Tell yourself what you love about you. Tell your friends why you’re lucky to have them. Give a woman you “don’t like” a chance to be your friend. And don’t stop there.
Tell me why you’re beautiful.